The Occupy Wall Street Movement which started in New York and has spread worldwide clearly signifies one thing – that people are not happy with the current state of affairs and are seeking change. The movement has triggered a global conversation around inequality, economy, fairness and alternatives from the current system.
Though people are only recently coming out on the streets, voicing change, there have been efforts already in play to tackle these very same issues and bring about global change. Out of the many movements that are contributing to this big shift, I’ll like to highlight four that are focused on bringing systemic change.
The rise of a new sharing economy where people share their abundance with each other. Enabled by technology and driven by factors like global recession, increasing cost consciousness and environmental concerns the movement is spreading at a great scale and pace. A new set of companies are emerging which are facilitating organized sharing, bartering, trading, renting and swapping to get the same pleasures of ownership with reduced personal costs, and lower environmental impact. A few great examples of the new sharing economy are: ZipCar, Getaround, Couchsurfing, Airbnb, TaskRabbit, Cycle Chalao (India). There is a website on Collaborative Consumption documenting the movement as it grows and providing excellent resources around the new economy. Also a dedicated news site, shareable.net, capturing the stories of people and projects from around the world who are bringing the sharing economy to life.
The movement calls for investing in local businesses instead of Wall Street and is asking people to start by investing in local food systems. The movement aims to restore both the local economy and the local food supply. They are proposing an alternative to fast money and fast food and their goal is: – one million Americans investing 1% of their money in local food systems, within this decade. They believe this is the path towards an economy that is healthier, fairer, more balanced, more sustainable. The Slow Money Movement to date has invested nearly 10 million dollars to dozens of small food enterprises ranging from family farms, to organic creameries and organic food suppliers. The movement though originated in America, inspired by the vision of Woody Tasch’s book, Inquiries into the Nature of Slow Money: Investing As If Food, Farms and Fertility Mattered, has now gone global, spreading to Europe and other parts of the world. To learn more about Slow Money visit their site.
Social Capital Markets
Believes in Capitalism with Purpose. They are building a new market system which operates at the intersection of money and meaning – a market that values social return in addition to financial return. And the market is growing at a phenomenal rate globally, with more and more investors and entrepreneurs seeing value in creating something meaningful, something that goes beyond profit, something that can help fix our economy, our planet and social problems. An entire ecosystem is evolving to sustain and grow this market from investors, incubators and a social stock exchange to academic programs and co-working spaces for entrepreneurs. Few of the leading investors in this space are Omidyar Network, Grayghost Ventures, Acumen Fund and some of the named organizations that are pursuing both profit and social returns are Grameen Bank, D.Light, LifeSpring Hospitals. To learn more about Social Capital Markets, visit their site
Part of the Social Capital Markets ecosystem, the B Corp are establishing a new class of corporations which have both profit and social good built into their DNA. Companies that do no harm and create benefits for all shareholders, not just stakeholders. To this effect B Corp has devised a certification to certify companies that meets rigorous and independent standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. The high standards helps differentiate between a good company and just good marketing. Further the B Corp legislation allows for companies to make decisions that are good for society, not just their shareholders.The current corporate law on the other hand makes it difficult for businesses to take employee, community, and environmental interests into consideration when making decisions, with the singular aim being profit maximization for stakeholders. The B Corp framework has enabled the formation of new types of companies that are using the power of business to solve social and environmental problems and other existing businesses realigning their values to meet the B Corp requirements. There are over 450 leading businesses across 60 industries in America that have joined the community of Certified B Corporations, some known brands such as Seventh Generation, CouchSurfing, King Arthur Flour. For information on B Corp, visit their website.